EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

.............................................................................................103 The Power of Books...........................98 The Pornographic Wasp............27 Everest.......................47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support.................................................................75 Night-travellers...Contents Foreword.........35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option.........................................................................................................126 Waterfall....................................14 Catching Crabs ...........................................153 .........................................114 There is No Land Rover...23 Easy............................................................................................131 We Are All Dying.....................................................................................................93 The Blame Trap......................................................7 Be Nice.............149 You Are What You Ingest................................................................41 Goals.........................................122 Time.....................83 Suffering..118 They Laughed at Lowry............................................................ Looking In..............9 Carp Fishing.....108 The Reciprocal Universe....................................80 Reciprocal Returns...........................................................................................................................................60 Have Your Cake and Eat It..............................................................................................................135 What do You Want to do?.......................................................................................................................................................................................................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good............................................................18 Change Chaser.140 Who am I to be a Success?................................64 Intention..................68 Looking Out..............86 The Art of Restriction......


don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch. quick read. I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. magazines and my website. Geoff Thompson 7 .) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. I hope this proves to be just that. (And whatever you do.Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes.


There is a massive profit in being nice. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me. The poem went. How bizarre. rather because it is true. 9 .’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. as long as you are not being nice for profit. not because it is sweet.

innovation. People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. made it and squandered it. Simply be nice. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). about profit and loss. made it and given it all away. courage in business. lost it and made it back again. The business world can often be a very difficult. about morals. the art of making a living. risk taking. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. Some quoted great sages. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. from theology to philosophy and law. Nobody does 10 . The books have all been enlightening.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. speculation. It is not hard. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. and dedication. about ethics. Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. cynical environment. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. lost it.

his work ethic even more so. who is an incredibly successful writer. both with his time and his advice.BE NICE anything for nothing. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. But of course this is not true. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. They are all generous. You’d be wrong. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. Always. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . Paul Abbot. He is a dynamo. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. People are throwing work at him. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. State of Play. For those who don’t know him. Clocking Off. most inspiring people in my world are all nice. What you give out always returns. He never stops giving. He is also an extremely generous man. It is the law. most attractive. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. The best. He never stops being nice. There is no such thing as a free lunch. I have a friend. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. His work is amazing.

If they are nice. Ultimately. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. people will go out of their way to find. or offer them anything other than gratitude. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. Similarly. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. And I am not talking 12 . He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. even create work for them. people will help them tighten their game. The effect is amazing. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. struggling writers. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. as is Paul. Glenn is thriving in business and life.

People like it when you are nice. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth. Being nice because it helps others. There is no profit in being nice. (Business types often mistake nice for weak. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie. I am only talking about the genuine article. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom.BE NICE about pseudo-nice. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person. nice for the effect. nice to fit in or even nice to impress.) But I would argue that if you are not nice. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. 13 . unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. it will only find permanent abode with those who do.

But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time. I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. As you can imagine 14 . of which Edinburgh was but one. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. and the heavy travelling schedule.Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. As well as the tour. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. the teaching. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list.

whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. tapes and 15 . In fact. Someone – disgruntled by my work. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly.CARP FISHING I was stretched. my profile. Peter has always been a mentor to me. my success. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. But I was handling it OK. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. until fate intervened. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel. that is. in fact. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. I was becoming anxious and angry. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge.

it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). thought to himself. dumfounded. started taking medication. had actually become his whole world. Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. It was more important to him than his wife. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. he was accused of using illegal bait. it’s not starving children in Africa. ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. his family. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships. it had become everything. what had started out as a gentle pastime. ‘Geoff.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. It’s carp fishing. split up with his wife and even lost his home. nay ruined. his home. ‘It’s just carp fishing. 16 . Just before one of the major championships. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. it’s not war in the Middle East. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. It’s not cancer. his life. Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. Peter listened intently. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed.

It’s not life and death. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. was just carp fishing. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. 17 . is the fact that the criticism I was receiving.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. an individual. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable. It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. and what has stayed with me ever since. and as we should all know. and a few letters. It was an opinion. As Peter said to me. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. Geoff. His father said. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. His father asked him.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. ‘It’s one man. about not letting things become bigger than they really are. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. far from being important.

rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. I watched in awe as these leathery-faced. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. not them kind). in no time at all. After a few minutes it became clear to me why. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. even when the fishermen removed the lid. yet still they didn’t try to escape. 18 .

face like a walnut. my peers. The old guy.’ Similarly. 19 . ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes.’ I’d whine. It’s safe.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. ‘This is a steady job. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly. claws raised. her face turned rolled-in-flour white.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. on the offensive.’ came the usual response. ‘Oh about thirty years. I’d been there six years. ‘I hate the place. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. The old crab.’ he said without hesitation.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. went straight to work. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again. had pulled me back again. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here. tired of the unchanging replies. thought for a second. (In fact. like the crabs.

Even today. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind. a cat and a Raleigh Racer. a mortgage. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. three children. I noticed that. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . after being pulled back a few times. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. 20-years on. only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. I had a family. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped. HP payments. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try.

it wasn’t my fault. But. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. She gave me her permission. even mountains would crumble. She retracted her claws. if I really wanted to leave the factory. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five. If I put my heart and soul into doing something. leave the city. I convinced myself. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. I nearly fell over with the shock. Well. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. She wasn’t holding me back at all. 21 . The fault was entirely mine. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. my wife did something unprecedented. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. Then one night. nothing and no one would be able to stop me.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. even leave the country for that matter.

so many places to go.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. So much to do. my incarnation. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. I made a decision. It was brilliant. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. Me. I snatched back my free will. 22 . exciting and scary. I climbed out of the basket. This was my world. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory. I have never looked back. I could and would handle it. I could be anything.

‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. but getting what you want comes with a price tag. That price tag is change.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it. To me. You will get what you steadfastly wish for.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them. I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. at the time. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works. even if. I 23 .

Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most. ‘Be the change we want to see. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . the out-worn. This change can cause temporary. face it and chase it. Only very few people in society really get this. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. even permanent disorientation. He said that we should. Death of the old. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. Change chasers are the leaders of this world. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger. on looking through. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity. a complete change of who you are.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. the worn-out and the redundant. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. rather than run from the change.’ In other words. go out and. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank.

The good news is that whilst change might mean death. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. to garner our courage and be the constant. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. offers us a choice. 25 . It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. an exciting and empowering third option. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. you de-fang it. But our free will. If you can be the change.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. it just as certainly means birth. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. bang on our bag gloves. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. if you are the change. God’s great gift to mankind. birth of the new. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. if you live the change. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. It is the only constant. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. we see the birth of the butterfly. be the change. only our resistance to it. You can’t have one without the other. So you have a choice. Death of the old.

26 . What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now.

Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. I write films for a living.’ Really? Writing is my passion. But easy? I don’t think so. but then everything is easy in hypothesis. It is what I do. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days.’ they say. I love it. ‘he writes all day. Writing is easy. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy.Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. It’s easy. 27 .

I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. In this industry that is not unusual.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy. My first film went into production in January 2007. It 28 . they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. People said. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list. Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. (I’ll fucking show you. It hurt. This is important. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. ‘It happened so quickly. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying. of course. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. Everyone said. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan.

a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. All the rebuttals. so we (the producer. the producer and Neil Thompson. 29 . No one has it easy. of course. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. and I) financed it ourselves. It weathered me like an old oak. had been done before. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars. The film that won the BAFTA. It was too bleak. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. I loved it. No one thought it was good enough to finance. I could go on but I think the point it clear. I developed an iron resolve. Natasha Carlish. too harsh. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. the director) over two million pounds in finance. but… I liked it. Life is difficult. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. No one wanted to make it.

The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on.’ 30 . He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased. I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms. I knew the feeling. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. He was in bits. behind the times. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting. judgmental and a bastard to boot.Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me.

Adversity and advance are synonymous and. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. had all but floored him. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. after all. It can be soul destroying. rebuttal comes with the everyday post). in shape and filmable. he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. With a slight change in perception. It is tough at the high end of any business. 31 . He felt his work was ready.EVEREST This knock-back. where millions are lost on bad films. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. despite his set-back. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. not least film-making. but you can’t by-pass it. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet).

And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase. meticulous even. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. at base camp. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult. This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people. on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. Until. His training was good. What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. 32 . he could run a fast marathon. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. he never really heeded the council. He thought that this would be enough. To make his dream a reality. Now. that is. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult.

He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. ‘There is very little air on the mountain. He was fit. I’m a fit man. he complained. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain.’ Again. the neophyte climber would not have any of it.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 . The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. I should be able to breathe easier. The higher you go the less there is. when you are on the mountain. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said.’ And here endeth the lesson. ‘No.EVEREST He complained to his companions. ‘Look.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). it’s a good day’). that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it. There is no air. I need to hear it sometimes. all experienced climbers. I am conditioned. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him.’ he insisted. this is the norm. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain. ‘you don’t understand. It’s a high mountain.

back on my feet and moving. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. the inadequate industry support.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. the lack of help. And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). It always gets me psyched up. complaining about the discomfort. then so be it. 34 . Then I remind myself of this story. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains.

He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy.) I. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. 35 .’ Another friend.Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea. on the other hand. he lives a charmed life. a fellow writer. family issues. tilted a similar lance in my direction. etc. He has had it so easy. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity).

It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. He was a good man. They were all right. I got the five a. My lovely dad died recently. He had cancer. how to die with dignity. He was loved by many.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. And that is not just good. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. how to live bravely. My dad lived a good life.m. 36 . disliked by none. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. It was an even longer night. it is cause for celebration.’ It was a long day. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. It was good. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. Then he died. It found its way into his bones. He was right. Let me try and explain. phone call and my heavy heart bled. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons.

not her sisters. of course. She is now happy and training to be a teacher. When she lay in that hospital bed. it was not me he called out for. not her mum – could break her out. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. It was not 37 . she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying.’ I said. well.’ I trusted that this was true and it was. you can guess the rest. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. I loved his very bones. My brother died violently. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me. When he died. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out. There was more to it than that.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. but what happened to my daughter was good. so much so that the love affair killed him. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. She recovered.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and.

It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. It is her soul. It is her life. The illness is self-inflicted. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. It is her story. It was difficult. It is her body. That is ultimately where we are all heading. My brother’s death was good. For that reason alone. He cried out the name of his drinking companion. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. I loved him. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. everything I write about and everything I think. They will (they have and will again) save others. 38 . another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. But it was good. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. What is happening obviously needs to happen. nor my dad’s.

Much of it does not make easy reading. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. Very good. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. lost my integrity. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. a better. I also fucked around. self-harm and illness. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. stole. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. It has been hard to forgive myself. No self-pity here. more beautiful place. guilt. The pre-fight. betrayed my ex-wife. mentally and spiritually. self-hate. 39 . physically. We all have to atone. however. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. especially my back-story. So it has all been good. Each of these. It was all good. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. No regrets.

he’s got it so easy. So. I will continue to drink my tea. I do. Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. so profound. 40 . Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful.’ I will continue to smile. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. Because I know they’re right. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. neither will I complain because it will all be good.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. And when folks say. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. It does have a habit of providing the hammer. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. Everything that happens to me is. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness.

do you think. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates. because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself. Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers. I admit. Instead I 41 . eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. Though. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep.

And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag. And yet when we examine the world in which we live. looking good. but I’ll never 42 . pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. but very few actually putting it into practise. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. lifting heavy weights. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. Oh. surface mastery – hitting hard. sinewy mentality. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul. It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. Where I once toiled for shallow. when we closely examine our own lives. ‘I’ll forgive you.

‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. as though it were a great virtue. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. Holding a grudge is easy. It takes strength.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. To forgive! Now then. There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. but you don’t know what she did to me. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 .FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. You can do it without even trying. a physiological fight-or-flight. It is not virtuous. You either do or you do not. I can’t forgive her. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. ‘Yea. that’s a horse of a different colour. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology.

We do not. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. as though for the very first time.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress. lungs. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated. a saber-toothed tiger. But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. who you haven’t forgiven. bladder and bowel. your body actually relives them too. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 . and you have a recipe for disaster. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. intestines. even death. under those circumstances. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones. if you like. therefore.

It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. and for several years. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. I often bragged to others that. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart. In my younger days. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them. Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. Forgive 45 . forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. working as a nightclub bouncer. I held many grudges. In my experience. what I was letting others do to me. ‘I will never forgive. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. or more specifically. Forgiveness needs to be localised. I also felt empowered. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long.

Start with yourself. forgiveness is cathartic. We all have skeletons in our closets. 46 . As far as health and fitness is concerned. forgive yourself and move on. start with a little forgiveness. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. What ever they are. So if you want to stay fit for life.

what they thought of the campus. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction. the staff. about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact. In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. 47 . however. People want success but they don’t know what in.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. I admire those that aim for the top. the library. I always find myself asking.

you’ll probably agree. life itself) was posed.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. The four per cent were also financially independent. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. between them 48 . Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. What was interesting. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. This time. in their health. ‘If you have goals. Interesting. their relationships. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. in their community and financial affairs. In fact. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. even disturbing. But not enough to write home to mum about. It was agreed. even disappointing. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise.

But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. And they are right. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. If you don’t have them. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. risk. but about time. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . it is fundamental. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. And I am not necessarily talking about money. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. commitment and sacrifice.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. you don’t get them. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. You need a definite destination. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. It makes them official. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming.

He is in fabulous physical shape. To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. if necessary). Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. You have to get your eating down to a fine art. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror. To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken. for instance. They don’t want to pay the price. But very few make it because the journey 50 . You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. or the port of beer-and-curry.

making all the right noises. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. Setting the right course It is easy to say. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. Next on the course is the training. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. It’s about the detail. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines.GOALS is too arduous. I know a million people that workout. back where they started. or even worse. working on the finer points and setting the right course. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination.

You could be the hardest worker in the world. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. in altering one or two minor points. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. I practised hard and daily. Consequently. I rarely pulled the throw off. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . The destination was set. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. he altered my entire course. but I was practising it wrong. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. In fact. And hey. Never mistake activity for progress. I got it. He knew the right course. ask the right people. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. The danger of goals Goals are essential. those who are already where you want to be. when I sparred with other players. to destruction in fact. He looked at my technique and. but my course was off. If you don’t know the way. presto. we’ve established this much. I reached my goal in record time. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal.

GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. we nearly always do. I might not make it. When we set goals. ‘I’m being realistic. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. but a common attitude nevertheless. The next week. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted. Steve was unsure. Dave. The other day he went out for a jog. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. I think you’ll agree. one of his friends at the running club. He was capable of more. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. guess what. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure. He asked Steve to take his place. He set himself a goal of five miles. I know I can do five. Sometimes we aim low and. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves. If I try for more. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. it was double his usual distance. He didn’t think he could run ten miles. 53 .’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. we hit low. My friend Steve is a keen runner.’ he always told me. ‘But.

He is now preparing for his first marathon. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied. Paradoxically. ‘Impossible. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. So aim higher than you think you can manage. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . I would say. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed.’ said his friends. ‘Watch this space. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour.’ Dave said.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. ‘just set your sights on ten. If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. but not so high you lose sight of your goal.’ Steve ran the race.

Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . as the calf matured and fattened. For Milo. you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. build your business or increase your fitness level. It could be anything. he grew with the bull.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. Like Milo. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. Instead. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. Day by day. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. Eventually. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. It isn’t always advisable to try. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. a college degree or a promotion at work. rather it might be your business. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). By picking up the bull as it grew.

56 . when the weather is clement. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals. You can jump steps. eat. They make their way first to a base camp. acclimatise. they attempt the peak. If conditions are favourable. It is all done in pyramidic steps. Others thrive on it. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. climb up more than one rung at a time. then step by step. They set themselves daily goals. they scale to the summit of the mountain. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. They buy a small house. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. acclimatise and then. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. I’m not saying that this is the only way. It can be done. Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. When they get within reach of the top they rest.

worried about his health. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. the tenacity. My mum. the discipline. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. as you might imagine. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. The real value of setting goals is not. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good. As the dinner sizes decreased. the weight fell off him. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals.

He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. their dream. in actuality they have. the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. He can’t. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. flying monkeys. On the journey. But he doesn’t. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. 58 . free of charge. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. symbols of their courageous quest. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad.

nothing is beyond us.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. 59 . Whatever your goal. I can have anything. I don’t ask myself. mountains will move and rivers will part. we all can. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. Rather I ask myself. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. When I look at my lofty.

our health and the love and health of those dear to us. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness. depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. a loss. 60 . We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us. all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives.

but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. mentally and physically – for the day. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. They start their day not by asking for more. from four until six a.).GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day. is better than a pound of cure. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place.m. It would be unwise 61 . after all. We all need a bit of invisible support. Deepak Chopra. One ounce of prevention. This is how great people achieve great things. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have.

destined-to-arrive tomorrow. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). But if you were to start now. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. It takes discipline.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered. You might. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . and it is. being more patient. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). while the idea is fresh in your mind. less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). They say that pain is a good advisor. however.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. insight. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. you. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. they (me.

Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again. we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing. 63 .GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). likely with the promise that. ‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’).

I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. I have tried all the fad diets. Now I don’t know about you. It’s depressing. And they all work… but only for a while. isn’t it? 64 . after a two-week holiday in Florida. Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. but as a man with the propensity to grow. to the size of a small continent. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it.

I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. I can be good for months at a time. I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas. though. weight gain. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. My food-abuse period was over. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. I take every opportunity 65 . my legs start going all Sumo. Then I hit 30. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. sometimes even longer. In fact. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes.

wine. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. And the apparel changes accordingly. beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . rationalisation. When I’m thin. My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. As I said. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. A man needs his strength after all. take-away curries.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. however. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. When the weight is on. a dark cloud descends on my day. I have tried them all. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly.

I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. and you can never let up. It’s difficult. Geoffrey. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. but it works. but not all of what you want. Have some of what you want. hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven.’ 67 . In the meantime. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life.

then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 . This is both exciting and terrifying. When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells. fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally. We are creators of denial. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows.’ The truth is neither.

The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. city or town. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. If you blame God. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. your country. anyone. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. Similarly. You always become a prisoner of those you blame. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. if you blame the government. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. They blame no one. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game. to blame. Those that take responsibility 69 . society.

And it was at this point that I got very excited. illness. I wasn’t exactly sure how. So how do you practise intention? 70 . I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. wealth. It was at this point that I got very scared. That made my reality very unpredictable. sometimes concurrently. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. And that is what I did. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. I resided consecutively. before I accepted responsibility. In my time I have created health. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. Personally.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. I could learn from my own experience. whilst at the same time creating violence. in both worlds.

Search out the truth from another source.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. until I could close my eyes and feel them. It is in the Bible. I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. I talked judo. if you desire. Not just your own intention. with study and diligence. and the Tao Te Ching. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert. But more than anything else I practised judo. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. I actually lived and breathed judo. until I was 71 . What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. I watched judo. it is in the Bhagavad-gita. the Koran.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. any of Deepak Chopra’s works. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. read it. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. Intention is no different. or the opportunities to make it. intention is about everything I do. If it is wealth I am after. hearing it. then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. For me. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. You start by investing in the information and instruction. reading it. Buy the books (my book. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health. If you make it your life. then I do the same thing. 72 . The Elephant and the Twig. they talk it. They think illness. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. If you practise four or five times a week. you will get weekend results. If you are a weekend player. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?). you’ll start to see some decent movement. they see and fear illness. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. into my life.

She had no tumour. It wasn’t always that way. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. She thought about it all day long. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. the sight in her left eye returned. There was nothing physically wrong with her. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye. She is at the top of her field. as soon as she got the results. The scan was clear. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. Then she had a thought. Interestingly. in a short time. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 . When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks. sometimes months at a time. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman.

Why not try? 74 . Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. and doing involves thinking. You practise by doing. Intention is a very learnable technique. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. the process is the same. feeling. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. hearing. you can become an authority. seeing. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. And if you intend enough. He was wrong.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. He was earning $20 million. Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest.

another black belt. a trophy. But how brave are we? 75 . physically-stretching. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge. a medal. The elements are conquered. how very fucking invigorating. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. We get a pat on the back. another gruelling. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. How brave. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits.Chapter 13 Looking Out. It’s good to be brave. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. how exciting. Looking In Another marathon.


Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76


the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77


or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

I let me (all of me) go. I forgive them. But if you really want peace. I let them go. you have to face them and say. ‘I forgive you.’ That’s difficult. Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). That’s a mountain to climb. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. 79 . but it gets even harder. LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become. I don’t understand you.LOOKING OUT. stop working out and start working in.

Paul Abbot. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him. he said it was fear. The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. In fact. Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer.Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project. This means that we avoid fear at all costs.

It is only that they change their perception of fear. take a step towards it. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. creep up on it. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. They feel it just the same. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. It is not that these people do not feel fear. The people who see red lights as green. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. which means we stop growing. So. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears.

Be brave. It is nourished by those who turn and run. And when the fear rears its ugly head. Be brazen. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. Fear feeds on your terror. Make the decision. Courage is the killer of weeds like fear.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. When you stand and endure. Be a night-traveller! 82 . Start now.

He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . maybe 22. I wasn’t sure. he was completely out of his depth.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. Not only was he getting tapped out. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. I could tell by his face (dispirited). defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. To be frank. his gait (shoulders hunched. and very fit.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week.’ I told him. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many. I see the same attitude in all walks of life. He was training recreationally and expecting professional results.000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. these guys are training twice a day. Without fail. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing. ‘Well that’s your problem. Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. ‘Oh. ‘You are training twice a week. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 .

The returns are entirely reciprocal. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns. The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. profit without investment and reward without risk. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. or shut up! 85 . This is good news and bad. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. And its mandate is very clear: Step up. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. People want gain without pain. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in.

if my suffering is unavoidable. I want my suffering to be for a reason. We can all endure suffering if we know why. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. a medicine. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. maybe one century if I am blessed. something – a word. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. a premise.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. If I can’t do this. then I at least want to make sense of it. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. an idea. 86 . a sentence.

my body. sex. drugs. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. Outside. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. or worse still. back to my house. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. we should (if at all possible) eradicate. but back to Coventry. there are two kinds of suffering. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Every time I go out I am directed back in. I (like most) left my city. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. Go inside. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. my garden. in books or conversations with gurus. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. Deeper still. left my country. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. That never knowing could kill us. From my limited understanding. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. drink. I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). There is no joy and little 87 .

make us envious. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. no one can let us down. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. cheat us. greedy. disappoint us. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self. do a degree. an MA. most of your suffering will end. depressed. The responsibility for my health. perhaps because we do not know any better. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. angry. To stop this kind of suffering. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. no one can abandon us. fat or unfit. we become their prisoners. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. poor. If your suffering is health related. not with the government and certainly not with other people. a PHD. become the most 88 . No one can offend us. under-educated. if you own everything. Become an expert. find out how to get well and stay well. make us jealous. The responsibility lies with you. we need clinical self-honesty. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. If you are really honest. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being.

But information will not drop out of the sky. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. If your suffering is mental. So get out there. much of it free. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. You need to hunt it down. Talk to the psychologically robust. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. invest in books.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. It has been done. lectures and courses. put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. The information is all out there. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. Don’t blame any outside forces. If your suffering is economic. These options are open to everyone. There are no more heroes. History is brimming 89 . In fact. Scour the internet. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. Study economics. earn your worth and ease your suffering. ask them their secrets. It can be done. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue.

that is. ‘You think I’m torturing you. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said.. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside.’ 90 . But if I can’t get out of it immediately. When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering.m. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him). Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering. I am boiling you to make you sweet. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot. I’m not.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. but have become massively successful at the same time. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. In fact.

we all tend to look for an escape. my recommendation is that you take it. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. again and again. Handle it. Your suffering wants you to see something. Pain is a great adviser. If you go into your pain. leave your suffering behind. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. to sit in it and examine it minutely. Frankl suggests doing something radical. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. but leave it behind. make decisions. they offer you great secrets. Take responsibility. Suffering is wise counsel. Right now if you can. It is an opportunity offered to few people. The answer is always hidden within the problem. You must be worthy of your suffering. If there is a way out. Do what is necessary. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. Sometimes you can’t. then the 91 . until you get it. In these circumstances. Address it. if you are brave enough to do that. But heed the advise on offer.SUFFERING When we are suffering. change and adapt. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. If you don’t. Do not turn away.

It’s up to you. Once you take responsibility for yourself. you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). 92 . Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence. Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. No one can help you with this.

the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in. culturally. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago. the fight always ended up very close and personal. pugilism suited me. because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. I specialised in punching.

I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique. chair. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat.’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. even the most restrictive. etc. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. And you do. their bellies. kneeling positions.). And then there was 94 . for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. Because of restriction of movement and space. Very quickly. When you have no range of movement. a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. from on their backs.

You realise very quickly that intent of power is power. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class. people become big hitters much faster than normal. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident.’ the Japanese ‘qui. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective.’ It has as many names as there are cultures. It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method. Just as restriction can trigger 95 . Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. an indefinable energy. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training. Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ. it also acts as an accelerator. The Chinese call it ‘chi.


the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96


Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.


Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. is a self-fulfilling prophecy.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. their wife. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. If you blame the environment. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success. you give her all your power. you’re stuck where you are. Success. to garden. It does exactly what it says on the tin. People are forever telling me that they would love to write. one I used (to death) as a younger man. to sculpt. This very statement. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. That means that until she says yes. you 99 . That’s when you find yourself thinking. the mortgage. of course. the kids. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. or to teach but they can’t because their life. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. circumstance or your upbringing. their environment. is very subjective.

‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. you’re glued to mediocrity. Think about the job you do for one moment. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job. then you have to ask yourself. blame and self-pity. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. And. makes all those you love happy also. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power. of course. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. then by definition you are exactly that. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. until they favour you.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. and by extension. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. it means that. The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. ‘The money!’ 100 . I hated my lot but. As a fledgling. again. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). I spent my days wallowing in procrastination.

I hated it to pieces.’ Of course it’s hard. But I like unconventional. and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me. but please. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. I like being scared. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. even out of my depth. I love being me. My working life is unconventional certainly. It wasn’t always this way.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard. You see. unpredictable definitely. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. I want to be out there experiencing everything. I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. ‘Yea. for sure. working your brain into mush 101 . sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). I agree. I love being overwhelmed. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun.’ you might say. let’s keep things in perspective here. it has to be hard.

especially the ones you despise. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. Any job. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. when you are hacking away in the right jungle. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right). We all know about hard. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are.’ 102 . that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things.’ We are where we are in life through choice. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think.) If we don’t like it. At least when your sweat is vocational. you are right. The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. It’s what we do on a daily basis. (Oh yes we are.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H.

Before I recount the lesson. But I don’t judge it either. I don’t entertain it at all. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. I don’t read it. In fact. So I don’t watch it anymore. like all addictions.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. I do like pornography. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. but it is true. I have a confession to make. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . Actually that is not entirely accurate. it drains my energy. well. Sometimes it completely disempowers me. I don’t really like it because. it is my genes. I haven’t for many years.

some people have them all. For me. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. I want to be strong and I want to be free. Most people are infected with at least one of these. gambling. and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. all our wealth is locked into our addictions. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. 104 .) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. pornography and people pleasing. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. you closed the door to all your addictions. So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. alcohol. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction.

psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. Like any drug you indulge. you have to start asking yourself a few questions. often dangerous. When you find yourself doing things against your own will. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy. Like most people. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. The question I asked myself was.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. This is not a metaphor. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. It had become a habitual cycle. but deep down we know that really we can’t. It is a true story. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. When I opened my eyes 106 . Some lost their jobs. many their lives. The urge came on. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. And this is where the wasp comes in. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm. I indulged it. It needed to be stopped. Many famous folks have ruined their careers. others their liberty. So I put down the empty glass. And weak. I felt shit afterwards. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. closed my eyes and asked for a sign.

each time more confident. He flew straight into the glass. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. landed. each time staying a little longer. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again. Until the final time. he hovered. when he was ready. Arrogant now. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. When he returned the third time he was more confident. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. flew off. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. took several globs of juice and. had a look around. 107 . He was still being careful. I never indulged my addiction again. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. It landed briefly on the glass. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. I got the message.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108


the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109


One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority. can feel insecure. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. An ordinary person can reach the stars. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. can feel like giving it all up. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . But in his book he said. a desperate sense of general failure. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. Geoff. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. ‘Listen. ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. ‘we all feel insecure at times.’ he tells me. The book cost eight pounds. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have.

That one single thing is ‘me. you could. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. and we all could do exactly the same thing. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track. These people have left their stories. That’s why books were invented. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. Once you have acquired this 112 . He has given me the secret to inner power. It’s not enough time really.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives.

They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps. It’s so wonderful. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. read the stories.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. street maps to life. The biographies of great people are simply that. learn the lessons and put them into action. 113 . All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. It’s great. If you make reading a habit.

He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed. Take Shane Meadows. they direct. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . He was not a member of any film groups. He lived and breathed directing.Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. It was all he wanted to do. I knew he was kidding himself. He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. All he did was talk. He did not direct his own films on the weekends. He wanted to direct so he directed. He wasn’t directing. Directors do not talk.

Writing is his life. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. That is what directors do. He got a camera. he said. the financers. As soon as his money situation is better. he got his mates and he got busy making films.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. I have a friend who wants to write. Neither was it the time or the tides. the designer. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. the actors. he is going to invest in a course. Then (after the director. Writers do not talk a good script. It was only the money that was holding him back. He has 115 . the producer. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him. It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing.

He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. It waits only for you. There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). Martial artists train. Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. with the best folks on the planet. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). 116 . but because my friend does not really want them enough. They create their own favour. The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. And this is not because any of these things are not possible. They live and they breathe it. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. next week or next year. the permission. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. the time. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). whenever and wherever they can. they find the money.

117 . it does not exist. But nothing will move until you move. make it real now. a red light for the majority. go and run. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. fate does not shape circumstance without action. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. Discomfort is good. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. Set a deadline date to make your first film. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. like the millions before. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. before you. And if you are scared. Now is the time to act. Sit and write. GOOD. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. Jump and a net will appear.

‘There is no Land Rover. ‘There is no Land Rover. It keeps me on track.’ It keeps me sane. There is… NO LAND ROVER.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. There is no Land Rover. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . You are on selection for the SAS. Picture the scene. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won.

’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says.’ So all the way around. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar. at this point. take off your boots. ‘How much further. you’re home. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover.’ Most people. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. working around strains and cuts and injuries. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. past the graves of former aspirants. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. Jump in the back. Home. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. When you ask him. maybe some food and bed. over hills and valleys.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert. 119 . You quicken your pace. ‘Until you see the Land Rover. do not continue on. walking on blisters. They have been tricked. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. The Land Rover. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. You smile for the first time in days. have yourself a brew.

but only when you’ve got 120 . For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). Well.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. ‘There is no Land Rover. I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. the Land Rover does not exist. Not even a foot beyond. it does exist. sort of.’ And that becomes their mantra. Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. There is no Land Rover. I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. and not beyond. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. there is instant enlightenment. Regretfully. a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is.

Until then is it little more than a phantom.’ When the film is on screen. 121 . and the tea in your hand.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill. Until then there is no Land Rover. And that will remain my mantra. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming.

I see. I assured myself that my 122 . I had to tell someone. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver.’ he said halfscoffing. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right. It’s what you do when providence lights your day. Nick Park. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back).’ I replied (a bit too defensively). still reeling from his unexpected response. half laughing. ‘Oh. ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call. ‘Well yea.Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news.

When the painter L. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. giant-slaying industry. They called him insane. too.S. and I should never let him. the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. or any others. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. hold me back. Criticism. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. you know. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. neither would I be the last.

All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans. ‘you should be grateful. ‘This is your lot. ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. Lowry had the last laugh. and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry.’ He laughed at me.’ he said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision. nails full of shit – and said to him. not only in spite of his detractors. ‘There must be more to life than this. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. This is a job for life. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. but also perhaps because of them. I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret).’ 124 . he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do). He became global. scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us.’ Seeking answers.

And for those that laugh at my dreams. This is my life. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. What he said next – not just the words.’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. And I am still doing them. I can do anything. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. It was like a dry slap across the gob. And more. watch out! They laughed at Lowry. And look what happened to him. go anywhere. All the things I wanted to do. 125 . I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. things I was told I could not – I did. be whomever I want.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. never to return. We all can.

but if you haven’t. far from it.’ Invariably. after six months of sitting on the throne writing.Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time. then lack 126 . In fact. or you harbour any doubts or fears. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way.

arguably the greatest football player of all time. And. at some point in your development.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. elbow-greased tools. Pelé. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. I wanted desperately to write a book. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. hey. Many a thriving. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. I was fully committed to writing it. But by the same count. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. He 127 . multi-million. I found the time.

was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life. they never actually write it in the first place. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. My only incentive. my driving force. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. I had no time. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest. Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. Or even worse. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores.

never to be seen again. And I know how hard it can be. I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. those searching for the grail of achievement. Paradoxically. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . time can be cruel.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). it accommodates committed souls. make the grade. if ever. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. Really! In my experience. But as I said. minute and hour in the present. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. if we fail to use it profitably. My want was always greater than my lack. it can be stretched. time is very malleable. We immortalise our time when we invest every second. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. it will be gone forever. I did desperately want to write. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead.

nothing will stop you. 130 . I was once one of them. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen. For many reasons. If you want something enough. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. Now I make a commitment. Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment. nothing will get in your way.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack.

I do hope so. You feel sort of needlessly tortured. I went for a walk in the 131 . I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell. Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. In that dark void.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. Then I intuited something else. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 . raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. It had been raining heavily all week and. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil. something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. Nothing I observed offered any solace. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. that is. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. But today nature was not forthcoming. I liked this observation. Nature has many lessons. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. Immediately after the fall. as a consequence. Until.


be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133


just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.


Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. in a hurry. We get to choose the meat of the story.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. the time is never quite right. I find. It’s official. The novel that you want to write. see. here’s the good news. there isn’t a tomorrow. Now that I have depressed you. pronto. all those plans that you have on the back burner. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. you know. So. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. Scary. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. as quick as your little legs will carry you. It needs to be brought forward and done now. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. We’re dying. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. this minute. We already know how the story ends. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. your mind’s-eye dreamjob.

We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. Fill your bowl. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. It doesn’t even exist. Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. Fit as much into the short time there as you can. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Your time. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically. 137 . Like the hungry people waiting for their main course.’ Life is like that small salad bowl. we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry. Tomorrow is just another version of now. They’re not greedy. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. They just know that they only have one shot at it.

the right time never arrives. not tomorrow. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. And now is the time. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. There is no time like the present.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. how we invest it. whatever. We all have the same amount of minutes. that determines where our lives may lead. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. Give it up and be a painter. this minute. while the inspiration is high. It’s just what we do with our time. We wait. a tobogganist. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. She’s stood us up. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. a writer. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. you’ll have achieved so 138 . it never arrives.

He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 . Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm. crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes. Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph.WE ARE ALL DYING much.

treading the world stage with the greats. He was living without a purpose. He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. My friend had once courted high aspirations. It is easily done. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it. Not that he’d never had a purpose.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 .

In the whole scope of things none of this is important. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. ‘It’s all bollocks.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success. or what is expected of him. ‘Poor me. I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. work that he thought might make ‘a great career. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do. But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity. look at what a failure I am. In colloquial speak. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing.’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself).’ 141 . I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. Forget expectation. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . I tell them they are wrong. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY. Forget society. No more and no less. Forget what others want and expect and demand. Forget responsibilities. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. forget the government. I tell you. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. Forget income. I have friends on six. Forget what you think and are told is impossible.

What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. rich poets. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. It was a cup of tea! The taste. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers. It is not that easy. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. And I did train. the feel – it was almost miraculous. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. I’ve got people relying on me.’ To which I usually reply. and certainly the most difficult 143 . Similarly. Only that it was possible. wealthy martial artists. ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. the smell. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. It was my job to train for a living. the texture. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life.’ Of course it’s difficult. If it was easy everybody would be doing it. And anyway.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway.

The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. undervalued. End of story. knew someone on the inside (because. How noble. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. as we all know. hard-done-by or elbowed out. And what a heap of horseshit. And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. had it easy. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. I was a changed man. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. ‘it’s who you know’). It is the prerequisite to success. They wine because they feel overlooked. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. If you are good enough you make it. So hard is where it is at. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. 144 . How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. All those who walk around it. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. walk under it or over it.

It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why. This is important. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. He wanted to find it again.’ She looked at him and said said to me. world class. I can’t work out what is holding him back. I would say that four elements need to be in place. global. ‘He thinks he is world class already. He was asking for my advice. give yourself an honest check-up. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process).’ She was so right. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 .WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. though he was unsure of what that something might be. Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. I remember looking at one of my friends. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level. ‘This guy has got so much potential. He had lost his purpose. I said to Sharon. To be the very best though. He could be world class. a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. He also wanted to be the best at something.

If your purpose is not clear. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. ‘Dad. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. you have to make sure the second element is in place. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great.’ His dad looked at him and said. 3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 . a search is in order. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. usually the kind of search that goes in and not out. they can’t always work out what.’ he said. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. it’ll find you when you are ready. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. This needs to be someone that you trust. son. From my experience. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly.

the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. watching it.’ And walk. feeling it. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. smelling it. eventually.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at. 4) Ironically. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. too young. what you do needs to be something that. supping it through the froth of your beer. maybe you feel too old. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. if you want to aim high. writing it. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. despite all the elements. It is about reading it. They talk. hearing it. talking it (but not too much talking). eating it with your breakfast. And walk. it is about making that talk ‘walk. If you are not sure that you can. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . seeing it. And talking doesn’t make a champion. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. Once you have your four elements in place.

let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. Beware. ‘Hey. 148 . But that’s good.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. Don’t let it down. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs. If this is a time of confusion for you. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. stop talking and start doing. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. you can say. a time of struggle. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. If you want to be the best. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired.

It might help to know that you are not alone. I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel. They just 149 . My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt.’ they say to me. often even after major successes.Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible. ‘And even if it is. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments).

It took me a long time to believe in myself. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project.’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting. A plethora of folks can 150 . This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. the easier it gets. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. and even use his fears as a fuel. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear. but perhaps because of it. Loads of people have the facts. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway.

It is not the art of knowing. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. it is the pre-requisite. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. despair and the occasional failure. write anyway. books to novels. it is the art of doing.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. All the gold is in the pain.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. Expect the fear. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. put-downs. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. criticism. Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again. depression. Expect trepidation. So to be a writer just keep writing. novels to films or films to 151 . Expect discomfort. knockbacks. set-backs. Salinger never published again. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books.

sailor – more than the norm.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. They liked you as you were and where you were. soldier. martial artist. but it is not. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. tailor. tinker. Close friends. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. nothing is.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. 152 . you have to get past the fear. To get the gold. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red.

Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat. We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. I love it. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out. I do. If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . I think it’s long overdue.

health was up.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. It was at this point I had a great realisation. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. Energy was up. Thinking comes through and from the brain. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. Healthy eating improves thinking no end. it relies upon it for growth. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. This is not a statement of metaphor. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right. it is cerebral food. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. the mainstay being information. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. Information is a literal food for the brain. Don’t get me wrong. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . But even with my food in place there was still something missing. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. performance improved.

Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. admire and mimic. read. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. hang out with. listen to on the radio. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . marry. Even your environment feeds your brain.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air.

I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. Stop pretending that 156 . The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. cerebral diet can be changed. Like physical diet. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. Here’s the good news and the bad news. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. If you have the foresight and the courage. you only get the one set). Your environment and influences. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. Good news first. Equally. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. Bad news.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse. get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. The good results only last as long as the good information. Like physical diet.

You are what you ingest. So ingest what you want to be. 157 .YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are.

Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. no matter what it does. after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India. it believes that it cannot escape. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. that you would never be able to go it alone in business. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’. . No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’. and eventually. Ultimately. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9.

In Shape Shifter.That with the right strategy and approach. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field.That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species .How to practise the art of personal transformation. you will learn: .99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky.Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7. now a martial arts expert. the first self-help guide of its kind. step by step . The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper. knows this better than most. screenwriter. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. success is always a choice .

geoffthompson.com www.summersdale.www.com .

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